Jan Brentebraten, who became managing director of Mazda Motors Europe on 1 April, will build a more European organization at the company's new head office in Leverkusen, Germany. He talked about Mazda's ambitious objectives to increase sales with Automotive News Europe report Knut Moberg.
What are your goals?
One of our key business objectives is to be industry leaders in customer satisfaction and loyalty. A top quality distributor and dealer network is also a prerequisite for us to be able to take full advantage of all the new products and deliver our ambitious sales growth objective of 50 percent, to achieve a 2 percent market share by the year 2000.
So dealers will be developed and tested for quality service?
Loyalty can be strengthened or destroyed in the workshop, between car purchases. Therefore we have started a pilot project in Germany for a dealer aftersales process improvement initiative. If the Service 2000 pilot project is as successful as we expect it to be, the program will be implemented at 350 German dealers this year. I hope it will then be ready for other markets at the beginning of 1999.
The quality of Mazda dealers varies a lot. Have you any plans to deal with this?
This issue will be addressed. We want to develop the best dealers, and we have a large number in Europe that are the best in the trade. However, we also have dealers who need to improve. A marketplace which becomes more and more competitive, linked to ever higher customer expectations, will be very tough on dealers who do not take the necessary steps to fulfill their commitments to customers.
Many Mazda distributors and dealers also represent a second brand. Will Mazda Europe accept that?
The vital point is that the customer must not be misled or confused when he or she visits a dealer. If a dealer sells Mazda cars as well as another brand there must be a clear separation. What is more important for me is that the customer is satisfied with the dealer, and that the dealer represents Mazda not only in the showroom - but also in his or her heart.
What about distributors having two or more brands?
I would like to see exclusive Mazda distributors in Europe. If an importer also sells another brand then I prefer to see a complete stand-alone operation and legal entity for Mazda.
Mazda owns very few distributors in Europe. Will that change?
We now ask all importers for business plans. We will discuss these plans with each importer. We will also discuss equity participation in countries if we find this necessary.
Where will you grow in Europe?
In every market, but I believe that we have significant opportunity in southern and eastern Europe. We have set up new departments both in Japan and in Europe to work on new markets.
You will build up a more European head office?
We are currently recruiting a totally new organization. We are now looking for a vice president for sales as well as regional directors, director for public relations, marketing and finance plus several other key positions.
With Ford a main shareholder in Mazda - and with you as a former Ford employee - can't you simply call Ford and ask for people?
Filling Mazda Europe with people from Ford could be a risk for Mazda's culture and identity. We aim to hire a good mix of people with different experiences and nationalities.
I could return to Ford if I wanted to. But I am not on lease to Mazda from Ford. At this moment I belong to the Mazda organization and I have no regular contact with Ford.